POLITICS

Newt's disorganization in Virginia

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Politics,Beltway Confidential

If last night's Newt Gingrich rally is any indication of the overall state of Gingrich's presidential campaign, Gingrich might be in trouble.

Last night Gingrich held his first large-scale event in Virginia at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington. The event was announced to the public the same morning, which was clearly reflected in the underwhelming attendance to the event.

Approximately 150 supporters attended the event, barely filling half the room. The rest of the attendees were media, staff and volunteers. Gingrich arrived 30 minutes late, and spoke for only 12 minutes during an event that was supposed to last an hour. He filled the remainder of the time with a picture line "in the spirit of Christmas."

Gingrich claimed during his speech that he had collected enough signatures to get on the primary ballot in Virginia. But a Gingrich staffer told reporters afterward that Gingrich had only collected the required 10,000 petition signatures to get on the night before.

The Gingrich campaign would have had to collect and extraordinary amount of signatures yesterday and today to reach 15,000 - the number at which the Virginia Board of Elections does not check the validity of each signature. Meaning, almost all of Gingrich's signatures would have to be valid if he turns in a number just above 10,000. Even if he turns in 15,000 signatures, a third-party could still challenge his signatures. Monday Politico reported that Gingrich was offering steep pay to anyone willing to collect signatures for him until the Dec. 22 deadline.

During his speech, Gingrich thanked volunteers and said he was going to run a positive campaign. He said he wanted everyone to know he has only "one opponent. It is Barack Obama." He challenged his fellow Republican presidential contenders to follow Ronald Reagan's 11th Amendment and take down their negative ads.

"If they don't have something positive they can get elected on, they shouldn't be running," Gingrich said.

Then, in the next breath he began attacking Mitt Romney's claim that he couldn't legally coordinate with the the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future because of campaign finance laws. Gingrich spent the rest of his speech attacking Romney (other than a few seconds at the end when he left the stage, and then abruptly came back to thank more volunteers, and left again).

Gingrich's campaign has made a habit of missing or nearly missing petition deadlines in other states, suggesting an overall lack of organization.

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